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A guide to Canadian writing groups

A guide to Canadian writing groups

Discover other writers in your community and get help with your writing journey.
CBC Books · CBC News ·

Whether you write as a hobby or have loftier goals, you don't have to do it alone. Joining a writing group is a great opportunity to meet other writers, hone your craft and find a mentor.

The groups listed here are a sampling of what the Canadian literary community has to offer.  Are you part of a writing group that is open to new members and want to be on our list? Email us at [email protected] .

  • 4 reasons you should join a writers' group

British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan |  Manitoba | Ontario | Quebec  | New Brunswick |  Prince Edward Island |  Nova Scotia  | Newfoundland & Labrador

British Columbia

Christianne's Lyceum of Literature and Art
What: An inclusive set of programs and writers' workshops
Where: Vancouver, B.C.
Who: Writers of all ages

New West Writers
What: Writing critique group
Where: New Westminster, B.C.
Who: Writers of all genres

Surrey Libraries writing groups
What: Writing groups for adults and teens
Where: Surrey, B.C.
Who: General public

Victoria Writers' Society
What: Participate in small, informal groups where writers present their works in progress and receive critical feedback. There are currently groups focused on short stories, novels, general fiction and creative nonfiction.
Where: Victoria, B.C.
Who: Members of the Victoria Writers' Society

British Columbia Association of Travel Writers
What: A group for B.C. travel journalists and writers
Where: British Columbia
Who: Meetups are open to the public

The Grind Writers' Group
What: Writers of all levels and genres
Where: Vancouver, B.C.
Who: General public

Heart & Mind Writing Group
What: Writers of all levels and genres
Where: Sicamous, B.C.
Who: General public

Alberta

Alexandra Writers' Centre Society
What: Community of emerging writers of all ages
Where: Calgary, Alta.
Who: General public

Imaginative Fiction Writers Association
What: Critique of written work, marketing advice, writing games and exercises
Where: Calgary, Alta.
Who: Members of the Imaginative Fiction Writer's Association

Parkland Poets
What: Community of poets who share their work
Where: Stony Plain, Alta.
Who: General public

Strathcona County Writers
What: Writers of all levels and genres
Where: Strathcona County, Alta.
Who: General public

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Writers Guild
What: Professional organization that offers development and workshops for all genres
Where: Saskatchewan
Who: Members

Manitoba

Interlake Writers Guild
What: Writing group for all genres
Where: Selkirk, Man.
Who: General public

Manitoba Writers' Guild
What: Professional organization that offers development and workshops for all genres
Where: Manitoba
Who: Workshops are open to both members and the general public

Ontario

InkWell Workshops
What: Drop-in creative writing workshops
Where: Toronto, Ont.
Who: Adults with mental health and addictions issues

Firefly Creative Writing
What: Writing workshops, coaching and retreats
Where: Toronto, Ont.
Who: General public

Memoirs Writing Group
What: Group discussions to help writers develop their writing voice with feedback to assist with the editing process
Where:  Brampton, Ont.
Who: Adult writers

OUTwrites Queer Writing Collective
What: queer-positive, sexually diverse group for all levels
Where: Toronto, Ont.
Who: General public

Sudbury Writers' Guild
What: Community-based writing group for all levels and genres
Where: Sudbury, Ont.
Who: General public

Toronto Public Library
What: Various groups and workshops focused on a variety of genres, including memoir, fiction and poetry.
Where: Toronto, Ont.
Who: General public

Toronto Writers Collective
What: Free writing workshops for underserved communities
Where: Toronto, Ont.
Who: Adult writers

Writers' Community of Durham Region
What: Professional organization that offers development and workshops for all genres
Where: Durham region
Who: Workshops are open to members and the general public

Quebec

Shut-up & Write/Tais-toi et écris Montréal
What: Community of writers who share their work, in any genre.
Where: Montreal, Que.
Who: General public

Quebec Writers' Federation
What: Professional organization that offers development and workshops for all genres
Where: Montreal, Que.
Who: Workshops are open to members and the general public

New Brunswick

Writers' Federation of New Brunswick
What: Professional organization that offers development and workshops for all genres
Where: New Brunswick
Who: Members

Prince Edward Island

PEI Writers' Guild
What: Professional organization that offers development and workshops for all genres
Where: P.E.I.
Who: Workshops are open to members and the general public

Nova Scotia

Evergreen Writers Group
What: Creative writing group comprised of poets, short story writers, novelists, and playwrights
Where: Dartmouth, N.S.
Who: General public

Word Nerds Teen Writing Group
What: Teen-oriented writing group
Where: Colchester-East Hants, N.S.
Who: Teen writers

Halifax Public Library Writers' Circle
What: Weekly meetings for support and inspiration at various library branches
Where: Bedford, N.S.
​Who: Adult writers

Yarmouth Write Away Group
What: Monthly writing group that welcomes all genres.
Where: Yarmouth, N.S.
Who: General public

Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia
What: Professional organization that offers development and workshops for all genres
Where: Nova Scotia
Who: Members

Newfoundland & Labrador

Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland & Labrador
What: Professional organization that offers development and workshops for all genres
Where: Newfoundland & Labrador
Who: Members

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Creative Writing Instructors

Carleton’s Creative Writing instructors bring decades of combined experience as published writers and teachers as they lead stimulating and supportive workshops for students across campus. This team of passionate, effective writer-teachers successfully mentors Carleton students as they realize their writing potential while likewise exploring a variety of writing modes and genres.

205Nadia Bozak

Nadia Bozak is the author of the novels Orphan Love and El Niño, the first two parts of her Border Trilogy, published by House of Anansi. Thirteen Shells, a collection of linked short stories will be published by Anansi in 2016. Selections of these stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Walrus, Joyland, and Prairie Fire.

Nadia holds a Phd in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto. Her doctoral work concentrated on the relationship between the technology and industry of cinema and the biophysical world, resulting in her book The Cinematic Footprint: Lights, Camera, Natural Resources published by Rutgers University Press.

Since 2012 Nadia has taught the introductory “Fiction Workshop” within the Department of English at Carleton. She has also taught courses in literary theory and academic writing at Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto, documentary film at Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario, and literary studies at the University of Toronto.

Nadia recently received a term appointment as Assistant Professor of English at Carleton where she is leading the growth of the Creative Writing Concentration. She will teach workshops in fiction (introductory and intermediate), poetry (introductory), and a special topics workshop in hybrid literary forms.

Nadia’s current literary projects include writing the third part of her Border Trilogy (a contemporary retelling of Heart of Darkness through the lens of English-as-a-Second-Language teaching), completing a collection of novellas about interracial love relationships, as well as a collection of poems for children.

Website: nadiabozak.com 

SONY DSCMark Frutkin

Mark Frutkin’s work, including eight novels, three poetry collections and three books of non-fiction, has been published internationally and translated into seven languages. In 2007, his novel, Fabrizio’s Return (Knopf), won Ontario’s Trillium Book Award and the national Sunburst Award, and was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Canada/Caribbean region). In 1988, Atmospheres Apollinaire was short-listed for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and for the Trillium Award.

After graduating from Loyola University in Chicago, Mark came to Canada as a draft resister and spent ten years living in the Gatineau Hills north of Ottawa in a log cabin with no electricity or running water. With nothing to do but read, write, shovel snow and chop wood, this period served as his apprenticeship as a writer. Erratic North: A Draft Resister’s Life in the Canadian Bush (Dundurn, 2008) revisits this time in his life.

He has worked as a journalist and critic for the Globe & Mail, Harper’s, the Ottawa Citizen, the Montreal Gazette, amazon.ca/com, and other print and online media, and served as co-editor of ARC Poetry Magazine. Over the years, he could be found teaching creative writing at Carleton University, and the universities of Ottawa, New Brunswick and Western Ontario. He has received numerous grants for writing from the Canada Council (including two ‘A’ grants), the OAC and the City of Ottawa.

Websites: www.markfrutkin.com and http://www.markfrutkin.blogspot.com/

Richard Taylor

Richard Taylor graduated from Carleton with a BA in 1976, and since 1995, when he was Carleton University Writer in Residence, taylor21he has been in the English Department. He has lectured in 20th Century Literature, taught the Writing and Language First Year Seminar, and the Fiction Workshop. A few years ago he introduced the Creative Nonfiction Workshop. For 8 years he has taught a Carleton EMCP writing workshop for Ottawa high school students, ‘Write by the River’. In 2014 he was a finalist for a Capital Educators’ Award.

For 23 years he has taught over 125 private writing workshops in Ottawa, Hong Kong, Australia and Tuscany. For 9 years he has offered his ‘Write by the Lake’ writers’ retreat at his beautiful Quebec lake house. In the winter of 2015 he will offer his ‘Write by the Sea’ writing workshop in Byron Bay Australia. Hundreds of Taylor’s writing students have published their work as a result of taking his workshops.

Along with publishing many feature articles and stories in literary magazines, anthologies and newspapers, he has published a collection of short stories Tender Only to One, a novel Cartoon Woods and an Australian travel memoir House Inside the Waves: Domesticity, Art and the Surfing Life. He narrated a powerful 2008 documentary film The Man Who Crossed the Sahara, about his best friend, surfer and legendary Ottawa filmmaker, Frank Cole, who was murdered while crossing the Sahara Desert. In 2009 he contributed a long memoir Saltwater Road to the Sahara, for Life Without Death: The Cinema of Frank Cole. While surfing and open water swimming around the world, he is writing a book about swimming with writers, Water and Desire. He is also mounting a multimedia art gallery show Writer’s Block: 40 Wood Sculptures and Their Stories.

collettCollett Tracey

Collett Tracey has a PhD in Canadian Literature. She is the General Editor of Carleton’s In/Words magazine, which she founded in 2001. It serves as a means to encourage student writers by hosting regular writing circles and a monthly reading series. In addition, it provides opportunities for student editors to mentor and be mentored on all aspects of publishing. To date In/Words has published innumerable magazines and many award-winning chapbooks of poetry. It has also helped found other little literary magazines, including Mot Dit, a French-language publication, Vagina Dentata, a feminist magazine, and The Moose and Pussy, a sexually-oriented magazine. Along with the Concentration, In/Words is at the heart of the Carleton’s vibrant creative writing community.

Among other classes, Professor Tracey teaches “Reading Poetry,” a course designed to encourage students to engage with Canadian poetry on both an academic and personal level. Her “Publishing in Canada” is a senior-level seminar about the history and practice of Canadian small press publishing and it counts towards the Creative Writing Concentration.

Professor Tracey is an advocate for the tradition of Canadian small-press publishing and has tirelessly advocated for seminal Canadian texts that have gone out of print, to be republished and made accessible to readers. For example, she is responsible for bringing back the novels of Hugh MacLennan, five-time Governor General Award winner, as well as The Blue Castle, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s only novel for adults. Currently she is working on republishing The Making of Modern Poetry in Canada, one of the most important collections of articles about the rise and development of Modernist poetry in Canada from the early part of the 20th century on. Professor Tracey is in the process of finalizing her book on the history of Modernist poets in Montreal and their activities in publishing.

Professor Tracey practices an active, hands-on style of teaching, bringing poets and writers into her classes, and encouraging students to participate in and contribute to the ongoing growth of Carleton’s–and Ottawa’s–literary community.

Professor Tracey has been twice awarded the FASS Award for Teaching Excellence and has been nominated for a host of other accolades for her dedication and innovation in the classroom.

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Lorraine Gane poet, writer, teacher, editor, writing/creativity coach

About Lorraine

Lorraine Gane was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and grew up in Toronto. She began writing poetry in her mid-teens, and after high school attended Carleton University’s journalism program in Ottawa for four years. She worked as a full-time writer and editor for major Canadian newspapers and magazines, including The Windsor Star and Toronto Life, before becoming a freelancer in the late `80s. In the early `90s, she began teaching at universities and colleges such as Ryerson, McMaster, and Georgian, as well as conducting her own private workshops. Nearing completion of her first collection of poems, she moved to Salt Spring Island, B.C. Selections from Even the Slightest Touch Thunders on My Skin (Black Moss Press, 2002), about the illness and death of her fiancé from cancer, were short listed for the CBC literary awards and The League of Canadian poets chapbook contest. Earth Light and The Phantom Orchid, two chapbooks about her experiences on the West Coast, followed. A third, chapbook, Beyond Beauty: Songs of Small Mercies, was published by Leaf Press in 2012. In addition to teaching writing courses for The University of Victoria, Vancouver Island University, and her own private workshops, Lorraine began mentoring writers around the world through online courses and one-on-one consultations. She also edits book manuscripts for publishers and individual writers. The Blue Halo (Leaf Press) and The Way the Light Enters (Black Moss Press) were published in 2014. She is now working on a fourth poetry collection, as well as essays, articles, and a book on writing.

Awards

Ontario Poetry Association Award, 2007; Canadian Literary Awards, Finalist, 1997; Finalist, League of Canadian Poets chapbook contest, finalist 1999, This Magazine, finalist, 2000.

Selected Publications

The Blue Halo (Leaf press, 2014) ISBN 978-1-926655-77-2; The Way the Light Enters (Black Moss Press, 2014) ISBN 978-0-88753-536-9; Beauty and Beyond: Songs of Small Mercies (Leaf Press, 2012) ISBN 978-1-926655-42-0; The Phantom Orchid (Blooming Ground Press, 2007) ISBN 978-0-98091-0-4; Even the Slightest Touch Thunders on My Skin (Black Moss Press, 2002) ISBN 0-88753-366-3. Earth Light (Golden Bough Press, 2001).

Selected Anthologies

Rocksalt (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2008); Arborealis, the Ontario Poetry Society, 2008; Monday’s Poem, Leaf Press website, 2008, We’Moon Calendar, 2007, Swimming in the Ocean at Night (Leaf Press, 2003); Poets Against the War (www.poetsagainstthewar.org, 2003).

Books in Print

The Blue Halo (Leaf press, 2014) ISBN 978-1-926655-77-2; The Way the Light Enters (Black Moss Press, 2014) ISBN 978-0-88753-536-9; Beauty and Beyond: Songs of Small Mercies (Leaf Press, 2012) ISBN 978-1-926655-42-0; The Phantom Orchid, poetry chapbook (Blooming Ground Press, 2007) ISBN 978-0-98091-0-4, $20; Even the Slightest Touch Thunders on My Skin, Poetry (Black Moss Press, 2002) ISBN 0-88753-366-3, $17.95, Earth Light, poetry chapbook (Golden Bough Press, 2001), $20

  • Lorraine Gane, writer, poet, teacher, editor, writing/creative coach

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